Nursing Home Falls and Fractures- An Overview

Each year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives between 100 and 200 reports of nursing home falls from average-sized nursing homes. Falls in nursing homes may cause disability, functional decline, reduced independence, and reduced quality of life for an elderly person.

They may also experience feelings of helplessness, loss of function, depression, anxiety, and social isolation. It is, therefore, important to take precautions to prevent elderly falls and fractures.

Statistics of nursing home falls and fractures

The problem of nursing home falls and fractures is severe, per the CDC. The following are CDC statistics:

  • Environmental hazards, such as inadequate lighting or slippery floors within the nursing home, account for about 16-27 percent of nursing home falls.
  • Each year, between 50-75 percent of elderly people suffer from a nursing home falls. This rate is twice as large as the rate of falls which occur for elders living in the community.
  • A nursing home patient typically falls multiple times each year. According to the CDC, it is 2.6 falls per nursing home patient, per year.
  • About 35 percent of elderly fall injuries happen to those who are unable to walk.
  • Between 10-20 percent of nursing home falls result in serious injury.
  • Between 2-6 percent of nursing home falls cause elderly fractures.
  • Roughly 1,800 elderly patients die annually as a result of nursing home falls.

Causes of nursing home falls

  • Muscle weakness
  • Walking or gait problems
  • Environmental hazards such as poor lighting, wet floors, incorrect bed height, or inadequate wheelchair size and maintenance
  • Certain types of common nursing home medications such as anti-anxiety or sedative medications
  • Changes in medication
  • Attempts to move from one place to another without assistance
  • Using shoes that do not fit correctly

Improper use or inadequate maintenance of walking aids

Nursing home falls prevention

Many nursing home falls are preventable with fall prevention programs in place. The following are fall prevention strategies:

  • New patients should be assessed for falling risks and potential modifications made to ensure safer mobility.
  • Staff should be trained in nursing home fall prevention.
  • Items such as beds, chairs, or mobility devices must be easily accessible.
  • Bathrooms should have safety seats, handles along the walls, and no-slip flooring.

Failure to provide a safe environment for patients may result in a nursing home negligence claim.

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